A collaborative blog for Current Affairs and Policy Debate

Cameron must not be afraid to fight Brown and his government

In Home Affairs, Parliamentary Spotlight, The Media on September 19, 2009 at 9:50 pm

TOM KENNEDY

Daniel Hannan’s loose tongue has provided somewhat of a dilemma for David Cameron, but the Tory leader must challenge Labour’s incompetence over the NHS and other vital issues.

SUGGESTING health care reform and attacking the poor decisions that Labour have made does not make you a right wing militant, joining a crusade against a socialist ideal.  As many have rightly claimed, the NHS is an institution that Britons should be proud of. It is a fundamental part of our society, one that we must cherish and protect. However, it has major faults. The problem is, the mere suggestion of reform from the Conservatives leaves many reactionary left wingers screaming for Tory blood, convinced that the pompous and capitalist right wingers are back with a mission to privatise the health care system, to finish what even Thatcher couldn’t achieve.

This is simply not going to happen. Even those who dislike the Conservatives know that they would never privatise the NHS. Yes, there is a section of the Tory party that would love privatisation to happen, and have a deep dislike of the system. However, whilst Cameron is leader they will be ignored, and rightly so. The way to solve the problems inside the NHS is most defiantly not to sell it off, and the majority of Tories are well aware of that.

The fact is that there are huge problems within the NHS. It was reported in the press recently that prisoners now receive better food than those who are ill in hospital, with food needlessly transported up and down the country. GP’s have managed to secure a bizarre deal whereby they work less, but receive more money. Since 2003, the salary of a GP has increased 58%. On average, a GP now works 35.6 hours a week, and receives £114,000 a year. It has also emerged that 45,000 NHS staff claim in sick every day, double the rate for the private sector. Astonishingly, many are paid overtime, due to a deal struck with the unions. This costs the general public £2 million a year.

However, despite what many say, I don’t think the problem is NHS staff. The majority of those who work for our health service deserve our upmost respect, as they are in an extremely worthy and noble profession that is helping the health and well being of our country and her people. There are bad employees, but the same could be said of any occupation across the land. Although some of their salaries may be too high, the predicament does not lie with the staff.

We must look at the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, as one of the main culprits. Brown arrogantly tells the British Public that Labour know what is best for the public, and how to spend our money. Better than the Conservatives, and certainly better than us. Our Prime Ministers assumption is up for question, especially when we see that Labour has spent an excessive £110 billion a year on health. Despite this, for many the NHS remains simply a postcode lottery.

The irony of all this is that there are still people out there who believe that in Mr Brown we have a safe pair of hands, someone with admirable financial prudency that can see us through the recession. Nothing could be further from the truth. Labour often moans about the lack of genuine policies from the Tories, and their cloudiness and failure to deal in fact. Here are some facts.

When Gordon Brown became Chancellor of the Exchequer, the economical fundamentals were in place for a strong economy. Unemployment was already falling from 3 million to around 1.6 million, and the country was thriving from privatisation of businesses. Brown’s supporters claim that the financial state we are in is merely bad luck on Brown’s behalf, but using that logic, surely his successes was then just good luck as well?

Between 1998-2005, public sectors swelled by 11%, creating nearly 600,000 more public employees. The state also now employs 3,250 press officers. Which leads to the questions, what were all these people doing?  The benefit system has lost 2.3 billion through various errors. 9 resignations from the health service have cost the country three billion pounds. When a fifth of the Royal Navy Fleet had to be cut in order to save money, the go ahead was given for a 2.3 billion HQ for the ministry of defence.  Brown also introduced 66 new types of tax, and used complex language to disguise what was really just a waste of public money, which played a huge part in getting us into the financial mess the country is in.

In another regretful move, Brown decided to sell a great deal of our gold supply, believing that at the time it was selling at a good price. Since then gold has rocketed in value. The treasury’s electricity bill has tripled since 2000, and spending on stationary has risen so fast it represents the cost of 10 million ball point pens! Worryingly, The Centre For Economic and Business Research found that £58.4 million is squandered across the public sector.

Brown loves to boast of the generosity Labour have show in public spending, and it is true they have increased the amount of money that goes towards education and health significantly. However, the problem is that the government seem to think that throwing money at something makes it better. It doesn’t. Has education really improved as a result? Results suggest not. Does the NHS offer a better service? Many would argue that it doesn’t.

In fairness to Brown, he has not been solely responsible for all of our financial difficulties. Nor has he been behind one major individual problem. However, all of these needless acts of extravagance have undoubtedly contributed to our financial crisis. Does Scotland Yard really need to spend £12.5 million a year flying it’s officers first class around the world? Despite all of this, Brown has convinced himself he is a hawk eyed defendant of our money. The trouble is other people are accepting his delusion. They really believe that the Tories are going to come and turn the country into a right wing state and cut all public spending.  These people should look more towards Labour. Can you imagine if The Conservatives had attempted to push through the detention bill that Brown himself was so fond of? They would be labelled as a cluster of legalistic right wingers, denying human rights. However Brown somehow survived that absurdity.

This leads me on that what I feel has been a serious mistake on part of The Conservatives. This is a real chance for David Cameron to prove his worth as a top class politician. He should forget about the ramblings of attention seekers such as Dan Hannan and focus on Brown. The facts are there and Labour is there for the taking. But so far Cameron has restrained from launching a full scale attack on the government shambolic misuse of finances. I fear that Cameron is worried about his party receiving the tag of being ‘anti-public health care’.

There is no denying that New Labour has had many positive moments, some of which have been genuinely good for Britain. In 1997 the time was right for change, and the Conservatives were not fit to lead the country. Even now, whether their policies are up to standard is a separate debate altogether, and will come under much scrutiny before the general election. David Cameron will have to prove to the electorate that he is genuinely concerned about those less fortunate than himself, and he can understand and support them. Many people simply don’t think he can. The public’s frustration with mainstream politics is completely understandable; as is the fact the people don’t want the Conservatives in power. However, that many of those same people would consider voting for a further term for the Labour government beggars’ belief. It is easy to respect what Labour used to stand for, and many are clinging on to that ideal of the party, even though it is long gone.

The problem is that many of the electorate are living in the past. They want to hate Cameron’s Conservatives. Why? Because they lived through the supposed dark days of Thatcher. Or perhaps their parents told them about ‘Iron Lady’ and how they considered her to be a wicked woman. What they fail to understand is that politics has moved on. It hurts them to admit that the previously left leaning government are now as conservative as the Tories. It is fairly clear that Tony Blair and Labour opposed hardly any of Thatcherism, and instead of abolishing many of her policies, they simply toned them down and made them more practical, with Blair providing a more friendly face than the  formidable Thatcher. The truth is that David Cameron is far more similar to Blair than Thatcher.

The truth is that the choice between Labour and The Conservatives is no longer between left and right. No longer do Labour represent socialist values, or stand for the working man. If anybody things that a government who declared war on Iraq and tried 42 day detention bill are verging on the left they are fooling only themselves. It is clear the parties have simply merged in the middle of the political spectrum.  Voters must decide who will make a better government, and put the best wishes of the country first.

The excitement and positive outlook of New Labour is dead. The Iraq War was the start, and other events have just been further nails in the Labour coffin. ‘New’ Labour is old hand, and is dying a slow and painful death. Let’s see if Cameron has it in him to finish them off.

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  1. The grounds on which many “want to hate” Cameron’s Conservatives are well founded. Even if Cameron (who is more centrist than the average Tory party hack), and indeed many of the shadow cabinet, are able to ‘appeal to the ordinary voter’ (no mean feat considering their overwhelmingly priveleged background, generally speaking) it still stands that the party which claims to offer a progressive future (see logo change, and PR offensive) is still full to the brim with Daniel Hannan types. As soon as one scratches past the shiny centrist surface, the Tory party is PACKED with backwards, populist, ignorant representatives of the “old boys’ network”, not by ‘progressives’ like Cameron et cetera. As long as this is the case, Cameron’s best efforts to make the Tories the ‘party of the future’ will be fruitless, because as soon as they are making progress towards a centrist position, someone like Hannan will show the true nature of the ‘Daily Mail-esque’ Tory rank-and-file, which is wholly incompatible with the image Dave wants us to associate with his party.

    • Sean, although they have certainly had a priveleged background, remember the founders of New Labour, Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson, did okay for themselves.

      My point was not that the Conservative party are perfect, they are far from it. I have no idea as to whether they would form a good government. I don’t doubt that there are many more like Dan Hannan in the shadows, and it will indeed be a struggle to maintain a centralist position. What I was trying to say is that Gordon Brown and Labour are out of ideas, and their arrogance is outstanding. I can understand people disliking the Tories, but if they then continue to support Labour in their current state it is just clinging on to long lost ideals of what the party used to stand for. New Labour was conservative with a friendly face.

      Blair helped erase any hint of left leaning within the party. So much so that The Daily Mail even supported his reforms within the party when they first came to power!

  2. Interesting article, please could you ratify the vague figures/results you suggest?
    e.g. Results on Education
    The NHS’s lack of improvement
    Scotland Yard paying 12.5 million on flying first class offices

  3. And also on Treasury Spending
    The Benefit System
    NHS working staff

    thanks

  4. To be fair, Sean, there were more than a few unpleasant connotations with “Old” Labour too, which explains their own rebranding — believe it or not, New Labour wasn’t just about moving away from Socialism, it was also abuot moving away from the type of unpleasant council tendency described by Kinnock in his famous conference speech.

  5. True – I think it’s a safe bet that the combined Labour-Conservative vote will be the smallest in quite a while (as will turnout?. Perhaps it’s time to give the Lib dems a shot. With Vince Cable as leader, naturally.

  6. I enjoyed your article, and agree with varying parts of it, and would dearly love to dismantle the arguments which I don’t, but I’ll just take issue with one point.

    You say (to paraphrase) that any government that voted for the Iraq war and tried 42 day detention are not left-wing. I think you’re making a grave misjudgement of what the left/right wing divide means – liberal interventionalism was the ideological justification of the Iraq war, and can quite easily be argued for the left wing. 42 day detention is, I would argue, not on the left/right divide, but, as you’ve no doubt come across, along the authoritarian/libertarian scale.

    It’s dangerous, I feel, to say parties are no longer left/right, because that over-simplifys the argument. Why does Labour seem more conservative? Because in many ways they’ve achieved socialist (or liberal) ideas, such as the welfare state, NHS, progressive tax system, which they seek to protect and defence. It is the ones on the right who are now less conservative and more radical, seeking to change the system.

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